Ongoing Investigations: Case #144

Gladstone’s School for World Conquerors issue 1 starts with a brief and amusing history of how the school came to be through the bumblings of a not so great villain who was defeated by a totally way better villain who used the name “Gladstone’s” ironically. The rest of the issue introduces us to many of the current students the likes of which cocky Kid Nefarious, awkward Mummy Girl, trouble makers the Skull Brothers, and a bunch of other students and teachers. And it hints that the villains and heroes dynamic isn’t exactly what it seems. While this spend most of its time settling up the story, it still has good looks at characters personalities and stays humorous and fun all the way through knowing just how much to make fun of itself.

There are somethings that you read and you instantly know your opinion on. I hated this or I loved this. You just have a gut reaction that dictates your opinion. Other times you get a more middle of the road reaction and then with a little digestion you can give a thumbs up or down. But then you have a book like Breathe Deeply by Doton Yamaaki. Even after a day of contemplation I can’t tell you if I thought it was good or not. I clearly see the books strengths but I just as clearly see the books weaknesses. They are both equally obvious to me and neither really makes forget about the other. So the best review I can give this book it to put both sides of the coin on the table and let anyone reading decide for themselves which half they consider more important. The main thing is that the book seems to think that subtlety is for losers when it comes to story telling. So when it is doing well its success is as bright as the sun and when it is annoying it is like nails on a chalk board through a sound system and your right next to the speaker that is on MAX. The story is a tale of two boys who fall in love with the same girl who is dying from a heart condition. One is a cold genius the other is a hot-headed punk. When she passes away after declining a transplant for ethical reasons both boys fall into a deep and angry depression in their own way. But they both attempt to find a method of creating an artificial heart that would not require a donor to prevent a similar tragedy. Both men are haunted by the loss of the woman they love but at the same time are irrevocably bound to each other by their loss. There is a lot to like about this book. You have older working adult characters. We have some major flash backs to their childhood but the bulk of the story is about their present day medical research and politics therein. There is also some serious looks at the ethics of research, transplants, organ donors, and medical politics. There are also some solid character study and romantic moments. The problem in Breathe Deeply never attempts to do anything in subdued tones. It throws the medical issues at you with the force of a rail gun round.  It is obvious what the authors stance on the issue of organ donors is except for 1 scene at the end that sort of tempers his view. Also everything is soap opera levels of the theatrics. Everyone has dark secrets that they spring on the rest of cast at the worst possible moment, drunk dads are always drinking and abusive, anytime anyone learns a weakness of another character they immediately intact a fiendish blackmail scene, and every conversation is some sort of game be it political or emotional. There is even beating and interrogation by a group of doctors using sodium thiopental. The problem with that is that Breathe Deeply wants you to take it very seriously. When Team Medical Dragon does the same thing I am OK with it because it mostly want to be a crazy medical drama with action and boobs. If you think about some medical issues as well than all the better. Breath Deeply wants you to take its love story and its ethical concerns with a somber gravity. But it is hard to do so with the theatrics surrounding them. The art is very seinen and the characters are fairly realistic looking which reinforces the feeling the series wishes to give off. I can’t really tell you if you will like this book or not. I am still not sure what my feelings are. But it is only one book long and is not like a good deal of the shonen and shojo in the English market today. Take what I have said and see if it sound interesting to you. There is a lot to enjoy and just as much to turn you off.

Penny Arcade has started a comic of Zelda: Skyward Sword for Nintendo. There is exactly one page long so far, but it looks great! The art is crisp with great color. And the text, while sparse is intriguing. Looking forward to these each week!

To be warned Gundam Unicorn 4 is a fairly talky episode. There is some action in the beginning and a good deal of fighting at the end but most of the middle is people bantering about Laplace’s Box or why they fight. This being a middle episode it is perfectly understandable to me but my tolerance for slow conversation is higher than most of fandom’s. And there is a long fight sequence at the end to reward anyone who needs robots fighting in their episodes. Anyone who thinks that Unicorn is rehashing the tropes of the Universal Century will find many of an example to support their case. We have the protagonist falling into a depression where he refuses to fight, the noble villain who has a chat with the protagonist in the desert, the long discussion over why people fight, the mid-battle speech where the hero tries to convince someone not to fight and several other UC classic scenes. If you are tired of this formula then you are going to run to the Internet to complain a blue streak (and then most probably still continue to watch anyhow.) I also see a lot of people being annoyed with Banagher most of this episode. He is not Shinji this episode but moping around hardly wins you any fans in the mecha community. For everyone else there is still a good deal to enjoy. I will admit I have a soft spot for Audrey Burne but besides that I think she has some strong scenes in this episode. I was amused by Riddhe and Audrey’s super awkward hug. It is worth nothing this is the first role where Ken Narita was Bright Noah instead of Hirotaka Suzuoki, who sadly passed away. Ken Narita instantly does not sound like Hirotaka Suzuoki but he gets the Bright Noah tone rather well which I think is the most important part. I would have to hear a bit more to make final decision on the how well he was recast but so far I definitely can’t complain too much. This episode does end with the strongest hook for the next episode. It really makes to want to see the next episode. As a side note: do we ever discover who was piloting that RX-160S Byalant Custom at the end of the episode?

I started reading Legend by Marie Lui but sadly I had to enact my 100 page rule (i.e. I give a book 100 pages *which is generous!* to capture me, I actually went 130 pages for this one). The story is about two individuals on completely different sides of the law in a dystopian future in which they are on a collision course with each other. The thing that kept me out and prevented me from connecting was the internal monologue of the two protagonists. They were so in love with themselves it was nauseating at times; there is literally a paragraph that starts with “I look pretty awesome tonight.” They also prove how cool they are through actions, but that’s all you really want. The romance is there, you know that’s where it is headed, but from what I read of them it would have been more interesting to see them as rivals/frenemies and leave the romance to happen with the friends (who I incidentally like better than the leads) they each already have. The setting is good, rightly mysterious, and brutal at times which is the best part.

Macross Frontier: The Wings of Goodbye is 100% Macross cheese. If you like the serious business side to the Macross franchise watching this movie is going to be hell. Anyone who thinks that everything in Macross should be Plus should just hope that the 30th anniversary series is more to their liking. Anyone who actually liked Chiba Sound Units will be in heaven. It is all the soap opera drama, plot convenient saves, silly capers, and “music fixes everything” logic that Macross has to offer. If you sit down and really analyze what you like about the franchise you will discover your opinion before you see even one second of the movie. Other than that there are some major changes. Some characters who die in the TV series live and a few new characters bite the bullet in their place. There were some game changers in the first movie but the last movie ends in a totally different place. Different enough that I am surprised I have not heard debates on which is canon: the movie or the TV series. The biggest change is a final and conclusive end to the love triangle. If you were annoyed by the lack of a decision in the TV series the movie gives you exactly what you want but depending on which camp you were in you might not like the answer you get. I will spoil in enough to say that Mike Dent’s wish for a Sheryl/Ranka ending does not come to fruition. Like with the TV series there are some major shout outs to old Macross series including a long Macross 7 homage scene and a little Macross Plus wink. And even some love for Five Star Stories and Eureka Seven. The songs are catchy but it would not be a real Macross series if that were not the case. Although I must say that Sheryl’s first song is so very … weird. It is a fun movie but not really a smart movie. I had a good time. It makes me look forward to whatever they pull out for the 30th anniversary.


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